Feb 19, 2008

Podcast TMA: How Many Doctors Do We Need?

In recent years, the experts’ opinions on how many physicians Texas and America need have shifted 180 degrees. We went from a projected surplus to a new view that we’re running far short – especially in some specialties and in some communities. Texas Medical Association and the American Medical Association are now among those calling for significant increases in our physician workforce.

To further explore this change and find out how medicine is reacting, Podcast TMA spent some time with Jordan Cohen, MD, the president emeritus of the American Association of Medical Colleges, who came to Austin to take part in TMA’s second medical education summit. Texas obviously is a growing state with a lot of needs in both undergraduate and graduate medical education. Since Dr. Cohen was in town, Podcast TMA wanted to gain his insight into medical education and workforce issues.

Download the show.

This installment of Podcast TMA also features some comments from another speaker at the TMA 2008 Winter Conference, who has a different perspective on physician workforce. Dr. David Goodman is one of the authors of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. After years of studying variations in care provided around the country, with huge variations in the number of physicians per capita, the Dartmouth group is convinced that more care isn’t necessarily better care. Podcast TMA asked Dr. Goodman how Texas medicine can do more with less.

Read more about Dr. Cohen's and Dr. Goodman's presentations at the TMA 2008 Winter Conference in the April issue of Texas Medicine magazine.

Feb 15, 2008

Clinton and Obama on Medical Liability Reform

Making Patient Safety the Centerpiece of Medical Liability Reform In this article they coauthored for the May 25, 2006, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barrack Obama (D-Ill.), the remaining contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, lay out their thoughts on medical liability reform. Here's the crux of their position (emphasis added):
To improve both patient safety and the medical liability climate, the tort system must achieve four goals: reduce the rates of preventable patient injuries, promote open communication between physicians and patients, ensure patients access to fair compensation for legitimate medical injuries, and reduce liability insurance premiums for health care providers. Addressing just one of these issues is not sufficient. Capping malpractice payments may ameliorate rising premium rates, but it would do nothing to prevent unsafe practices or ensure the provision of fair compensation to patients.

Medicare: Hold Congress Accountable

The clock is running out. Physicians must persuade Congress to put Texas’ Medicare Manifesto into action. Congress must fix Medicare’s flawed payment system now. If Congress fails to act by June, both your practice and your Medicare patients are in severe danger.

Your local representative and Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey-Hutchison are in Texas for the next two weeks. You must contact them immediately and urge them to act now.

For an easy way to contact your representative and Senators Cornyn and Hutchison, go to the TMA Grassroots Action Center.

Feb 13, 2008

Tamper-Resistant Rx Pads Required April 1

Effective April 1, Medicaid will require all written prescriptions for outpatient drugs, including over the counter, to be on tamper-resistant prescription pads.

Don’t Lose Your Patients

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) have extended the National Provider Identifier compliance contingency period from Feb. 29 until May 23.

TMLT Offers Medical Student Scholarships

The Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) is again offering its TMLT Memorial Scholarships to medical student scholarships in 2008. One student at each Texas medical school will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

United Changes Reimbursement Policy

UnitedHealthcare has revised its Preventive Medicine Reimbursement Policy. It now allows separate reimbursement for preventive medicine services, and for acute care evaluation and management services on the same date of service.

Greetings from the TMB

What should you do if you hear from the Texas Medical Board (TMB)? The Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT) can tell you.

Last Chance for KLAS!

TMA's contract with KLAS, which gives members free access to compare more than 500 technology products from 300 vendors, expires Feb. 28. If you participate in KLAS, you will still have free access for one full year.

DSHS Offers New Cancer Treatment Resource

A new resource for treatment of qualified low-income women with certain breast or cervical cancer diagnoses is available from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Have a Heart for Physicians

Open your hearts for “Have a Heart for Physicians,” a fund-raising effort by TMA’s Physician Health and Rehabilitation (PHR) Assistance Fund held during May 2008.

Feb 12, 2008

Texas Physicians Sue to Protect Liability Reforms

The Texas Medical Association has gone to court to protect the historic and hard-won tort reforms the Texas Legislature passed in 2003 and to make sure patients continue to have better access to medical care. TMA joined Corpus Christi orthopedic surgeon John McKeever, MD, the Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA), and the Texas Hospital Association to resolve several constitutional challenges to the centerpiece of the reforms: the cap on noneconomic damages – such as for pain and suffering – that may be awarded in a medical liability case.

Can Medicine Save Medicare?

Feb 6, 2008

Podcast TMA: The Texas Medicare Manifesto

This installment of Podcast TMA comes to you directly from the TMA 2008 Winter Conference. Listen in as TMA president Dr. Bill Hinchey explains the never-ending congressional problems with Medicare payments … and what TMA is going to do to change that.

Download the podcast now.

TMA created the Texas Medicare Manifesto to hold the government accountable to the promises it made to help us care for our elderly patients and Texans with disabilities. We are asking our U.S. representatives and senators to:
  • Fix the Formula: We need a rational Medicare physician payment system that automatically keeps up with the cost of running a practice and is backed by a stable funding source.

  • Tear Down the Silos: No “positive updates,” no increases for hospitals, nursing homes, Medicare HMOs, or any other Medicare providers until the physician payment system is addressed once and for all for the benefit of our Medicare patients. (If that takes “breaking down the silos” between Medicare Parts A, B, and D, so be it.)

  • Put Patients Before Insurance Companies: Medicare Advantage plans should not come ahead of patient care. Why should Medicare Advantage plans make three times more than the commercial health insurance sector? We need to stop Congress from robbing seniors and feeding the health insurance beast.

  • No Quid Pro Quos: We won’t trade a fixed formula for limitations on physicians’ rights to invest in hospitals and equipment. We won’t trade for unfunded mandates, such as required e-prescribing systems.

Read more about the Texas Medicare Manifesto.

Download patient education posters.

Join the March to the Hill.

Write a letter to the editor.

Complete text of Dr. Hinchey’s remarks.

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Tech's El Paso Medical School Accredited

Texas Tech University's Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso is now the first accredited four-year medical school on the Texas-Mexico border. University officials were notified Tuesday that the school has received accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The LCME told Texas Tech officials they can begin recruiting students for the fall of 2009. The school is expected to eventually accept some 80 students per year. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President John Baldwin, MD, called the accreditation "a watershed event, a great milestone in the history of El Paso and the Texas Tech System," adding, "It is a time for celebration and re-dedication to our mission of teaching, top-tier research, and patient care."